Mao Asada
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Mao Asada announces sudden retirement from figure skating

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One year after Mao Asada said she planned to compete through the 2018 Olympics, the three-time world figure skating champion announced what she called a “sudden” retirement from competition Monday.

The 2010 Olympic silver medalist previously took a one-season break after winning her third world title in March 2014, one month after a disappointing sixth-place finish at the Sochi Winter Games.

Asada came back in 2015 but struggled, winning once in seven international starts the last two seasons and bottoming out with a 12th-place finish at the Japanese Championships in December.

“After I came back to competition, I wasn’t able to pull off the performance and achieve the result that I expected, and I started to worry more,” Asada, who reportedly dealt with a knee injury this season, wrote in a blog Monday, according to an Icenetwork translation. “When I finished the last Japanese nationals, the goal that had been motivating me disappeared, and I lost the energy to continue my competitive career.”

Asada, 26, changed her mind in recent months. Immediately after Japanese nationals, where she had her worst result in 14 appearances, she said she planned to compete next season, according to Japanese media.

It would have been very difficult for Asada to make Japan’s Olympic team. The Japanese qualified two women’s spots for PyeongChang, their fewest since 2002.

Asada leaves competitive skating as an innovator in the sport, regularly performing the triple Axel, a jump no top women currently attempt.

She would have been a gold-medal contender at the 2006 Torino Olympics, had she not been too young to compete in those Winter Games.

Asada won her first world title in 2008 and took silver behind Yuna Kim at the Vancouver Olympics. The following month, Asada beat Kim for her second world title in Torino.

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MORE: Nathan Chen, Ashley Wagner return for one more event in April

Does Lance Armstrong believe doping contributed to cancer?

Lance Armstrong
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Lance Armstrong said on Sunday’s ESPN film “Lance” that he didn’t know whether he got testicular cancer because of his doping in the early-to-mid 1990s.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “And I don’t want to say no because I don’t think that’s right, either. I don’t know if it’s yes or no, but I certainly wouldn’t say no. The only thing I will tell you is the only time in my life that I ever did growth hormone was the 1996 season [before being diagnosed with moderate to advanced cancer in October 1996]. So just in my head, I’m like ‘growth, growing, hormones and cells.’ Like, if anything good needs to be grown, it does. But wouldn’t it also make sense that if anything bad is there, that it, too, would grow?”

Armstrong was asked a similar question by Oprah Winfrey in his January 2013 doping confession.

“Do you think that banned substances contributed to you getting cancer?” Winfrey asked.

“I don’t think so,” Armstrong said then. “I’m not a doctor, I’ve never had a doctor tell me that or suggest that to me personally, but I don’t believe so.”

That was not the first time doping and cancer were part of the same conversation.

Teammate Frankie Andreu and then-fiancee Betsy said that Armstrong told a doctor on Oct. 27, 1996, at Indiana University Hospital that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs; EPO, testosterone, growth hormone, cortisone and steroids.

Armstrong said he probably began doping at age 21, in 1992 or 1993.

“I remember when we were on a training ride in 2002, Lance told me that [Michele] Ferrari [the infamous doctor who provided performance-enhancing drugs] had been paranoid that he had helped cause the cancer and became more conservative after that,” former teammate Floyd Landis said in 2011, according to Sports Illustrated.

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

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Cortina requests to postpone Alpine skiing worlds from 2021 to 2022

Alpine Skiing World Championships
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The Italian Winter Sports Federation was making a formal request on Monday to postpone next year’s world Alpine skiing championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo until March 2022.

Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malagò revealed the plans during an interview with RAI state TV on Sunday night.

Considering the fallout in Italy from the coronavirus pandemic, Malagò said “this is the best solution” in order to avoid the championships being canceled or shortened.

“It’s a decision in which we both lose but we realize this is the best — or maybe the only thing — to do,” Malago said.

The Italian federation confirmed that the proposal would be presented during an International Ski Federation (FIS) board meeting Monday. The Italian federation added that the decision to make the proposal was made jointly by the organizing committee in Cortina, the Veneto region and the Italian government.

It will be up to FIS to decide on any postponement.

Cortina was already forced to cancel the World Cup Finals in March this year due to the advancing virus, which has now accounted for more than 30,000 deaths in Italy.

Moving the worlds to March 2022 would put the event one month after the Beijing Olympics and likely force FIS to cancel that season’s finals in Méribel and Courchevel, France.

The Cortina worlds are currently scheduled for Feb. 7-21, 2021.

Worlds are usually held every other winter, in odd years.

Cortina is also slated to host Alpine events during the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

MORE: Anna Veith retires, leaves Austrian Alpine skiing in unfamiliar territory

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